4 Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Local TV News Reporters

This post was initially published on BostInnovation on July 28, 2011. To read the original post there, click here. Today – thanks to social media, smartphones and other new digital communications platforms and tools – what the savviest of consumers are asking of their favorite brands is almost as much as they’d expect from


The Importance of LinkedIn Recommendations

Given my outgoing personality, my obsession with the latest news and the fact that I’ve always been an early adopter of new communications tools, it’s no surprise that I’ve been enamored with social media from the get-go. I can’t tell you how excited I was to launch my own blog in early 2004, where I’ve written nearly


10 Ways to Succeed as a Copywriter, Parts 1-10

If you’ve been reading this blog for the last few months, you know I’ve been writing a series of posts on copywriting. Similar to the approach I took with my series on social media, I’ve looked at copywriting from a 30,000-foot level, focusing on the principles you need to be mindful of if you want to


10 Ways to Succeed in Social Media, Parts 1-10

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know about the  ”10 Ways to Succeed in Social Media” series of posts I started writing on January 13 of this year and recently concluded on April 5. But what you wouldn’t know is how much I’ve been looking forward to stringing these posts together into one


The Importance of Character in Social Media

By now, most people involved in marketing, advertising and PR have put aside any skepticism they may have had about social media and are using such online communications vehicles as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to reach out to and engage with others. They’re finally realizing that – as I’ve said before here on this


An Outdoor Ad That Stopped Me in My Tracks

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Espolòn Tequila

My friends and followers know how much I like to share pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, many of which I take during the course of my long runs. These pictures are taken almost everywhere I go, from the trails of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury, one of my favorite places to run, to the streets of Boston, where I log plenty of miles after work during the week.

Honestly, if I had my druthers where to run and shoot pictures, it would have to be a toss-up. I like the variety of my routes. I see as much color and scenery while running in the city as I do in the country.

One of the pictures I took in the city recently was of this wicked cool illustration on the side of the International Bicycle Center store on Brighton Avenue in Allston (MA). I had run by it a bunch of times, always going by it so fast that I couldn’t actually tell if it was just some miscellaneous display of graffiti or an actual ad, before I stopped to admire it one evening. After sharing my picture of it on Twitter, I received a quick reply from my friend, @eric_andersen, and another one from @EspolonTequila, who was responsible for this awesome work of art.

While I haven’t tried Espolòn Tequila, I’m certainly impressed with how the company is going about promoting it on the street, not to mention how they reached out to me on Twitter. An illustrated outdoor ad such as this one – replete with the hashtag, “#LetsStirThingsUp” – is a clever way for a brand to make an impression on its audience. It’s cool enough to blend in with urban culture, yet different enough to get the attention of someone like me. It’s new marketing at its finest.

Note: This post, “An Outdoor Ad That Stopped Me in My Tracks,” was originally published on the Overdrive Interactive blog on November 17, 2013. To read the post there, click here.

Do You Thank Your Customers Enough?

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As a longtime Boston Red Sox fan, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the 2013 Major League Baseball season. After all, my beloved Red Sox not only became the 11th team in history to go from worst to first in the division the very next season, they won their eighth World Series title, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in a riveting, unforgettable six-game duel for the ages.

Not to mention the fact that I was there to see the historic series-clinching game in person with my brother, Tom, at Fenway Park last Wednesday night. Talk about unforgettable memories.

But as closely as I was paying attention to the Fall Classic this year, there was something else that stood out to me while I was glued to the TV during the series besides the exciting play on the field. It was a spot from Major League Baseball that thanked its fans. Watch…

What a great spot! What a great script…

“They’re larger than life. They’ve earned our admiration. The game wouldn’t be same without them. After all, they’re the fans. To the 74 million who joined us this season, here’s to many more great moments together.”

Hats off to Major League Baseball for reaching out to the fans in this manner. It’s a great gesture on their part, a nice way for the players to show their appreciation to those who pack the ballparks.

From a marketing standpoint, it’s a simple, short spot that can go a long way toward customer loyalty and retention.

What about you? Do you thank your customers and clients enough? What do you do to make sure that those who support your business know just how much they’re appreciated? Are you recognizing them in videos, emails, print ads, billboards and social media? Are you doing everything you possibly can to thank your own fans?

Note: This post, “Do You Thank Your Customers Enough,” was originally published on the Overdrive Interactive blog on November 4, 2013. To read the post there, click here.

The Red Sox Rock (Not Just on the Field, But on Twitter, Too)

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Boston Red Sox

To say I’ve been a big Boston Red Sox fan for a long time would be an understatement.

Yup, I’m old enough to remember The Impossible Dream season of 1967, when the Sox went to the World Series for the first time since 1946. In those days, I looked up to players like Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski, Jim Lonborg and Rico Petrocelli. Those guys were revered baseball idols and real-life heroes to a small Little League ballplayer like me with a young, impressionable mind.

Over the years, I’ve stuck with this team through thick and thin, cheering them on year after year, rooting for Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Dwight Evans, Mo Vaughn, Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and a whole cast of larger than life superstars to go all the way.

And go all the way they did, copping World Series championships in both 2004 and 2007, something they hadn’t done before since 1918.

Of course, they’re playing in the Fall Classic once again this year, about to take on the St. Louis Cardinals in a best-of seven series in which the winner takes all. And if you ask me, their chances look good to claim yet another Commissioner’s Trophy. It’s not even a question that the 2013 Red Sox rock on the field.

But this team rocks on Twitter, too, where their handle, @RedSox, is always on top of its game, sharing plenty of news, information, stats, fascinating facts and pleasantries. Seriously, the way the Red Sox entertain and engage with their followers on Twitter is something to be admired. They post Vine videos, Instagram photos, GIFs and great custom graphics, not to mention the fact that they give away tickets to lucky fans from time to time and prizes to those who “tweet their seat.” It’s a great Twitter account to follow whether you’re a Red Sox fan or simply a social media aficionado. I just happen to be both.


Note: This post, “The Red Sox Rock (Not Just on the Field, But on Twitter, Too),” was originally published on the Overdrive Interactive blog on October 21, 2013. To read the post there, click here.

How to Use TweetDeck to Schedule Tweets and Monitor What’s Important to You

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I was happy and honored to speak recently at the New England Direct Marketing Association’s Marketing Technology Summit.

Moderating a discussion on the “Tools and Technologies for Social Media Success,” I was fortunate to have Jamie Pappas, Director of Brand Communications and Social Media at Akamai Technologies, and Eric Andersen, Senior I/T Architect at IBM Interactive, alongside me.

My topic was how to use TweetDeck to schedule tweets as well as to monitor lists, hashtags and individual accounts.

I’ve been using TweetDeck for a long time to keep up with the activities of others on Twitter and maintain my own steady presence on the channel. It’s a tool I rely on day in and day out to communicate with my followers and listen carefully to those whose tweets I just can’t miss.

One tactic I use to get to know people, brands, companies and organizations particularly well is to put them in a separate column in TweetDeck, allowing me to sort through the cacophony of noise on Twitter and pay attention to their every single tweet. Seriously, if you want to get to know others in 140 characters or less, this is a great way to get a quick glimpse into what’s on their minds and how they interact with their own respective audiences.

Including a few small edits I’ve made since to the presentation, here are the slides I shared with my audience at NEDMA’s Marketing Technology Summit on October 1, 2013…

Note: This post, “How to Use TweetDeck to Schedule Tweets and Monitor What’s Important to You,” was originally published on the Overdrive Interactive blog on October 9, 2013. To read the post there, click here.

A Sign of Smart Marketing

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CVSI haven’t gotten my flu shot yet this year, so this sign certainly caught my attention, but not just because it seems way too early in the season to be worrying about coming down with the dreaded influenza.

The marketer in me thought it was such a great idea to offer those who get their flu shot at this CVS/pharmacy on Brighton Avenue in Allston a 20% Off Shopping Pass. After all, people who come into the store to get vaccinated aren’t necessarily thinking about meandering up and down the aisles. But if you give them that discount along with the needle, they’re certainly more likely to buy a thing or two on their way out the door. It’s a good deal for the customer and a great strategy by CVS. It’s a sign of smart marketing.

So ask yourself…regardless of your business, how could you leverage a similar strategy to pleasantly surprise your own customers? What incentives could you offer them to increase your cross-sell and up-sell revenues? What products and services could you bundle together? How could you turn one small sale into a much bigger purchase? 

Note: This post, “A Sign of Smart Marketing,” was originally published on the Overdrive Interactive blog on September 22, 2013. To read the post there, click here.

Crowdsourcing Photos to Engage the Audience at a Live Event

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RedBullI was very happy to have the opportunity to attend the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series recently with my wife, Barbara. After all, what could be more exciting than watching some of the world’s best divers jump off the roof of the Institute of Contemporary Art building some 92 feet or so into Boston Harbor?

But besides the enjoyment of watching these guys somersault, tumble, flip, pirouette, spin and fly through the air to the water below, I was particularly impressed with the coverage at the scene of the event.

First of all, the announcer had a ton of energy, which went a long way toward keeping the crowd of spectators into every moment of this extreme sports spectacle. He may have been loud and a little over the top, but his enthusiasm was infectious.

And even though we didn’t have a great view of the divers from where we were standing, we could watch them on a big screen that brought us closer to the action than would have been possible from any other vantage point.

What really caught my attention on that very same screen, though, was when it was used to display a handful of pictures that people in the audience had taken and posted on Twitter and/or Instagram, using the handle, @RedBullBOS and the hashtag, #redbullCliffDiving.

This is an excellent way to use social media to engage fans at a live event.

Red BullIt’s a lot like when enthusiastic fans are featured on the Jumbotron during a timeout at a sporting event, only in this case the spotlight’s not on them, it’s on their photos.

It’s a great form of crowdsourcing, asking the audience to contribute to the show itself.

It’s a win-win situation, as fans have the pleasure of sharing their own visual POV with the masses and promoters have unique, ground-level content that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

But if you’re going to use this tactic, don’t stop there. If you’re going to share your audience’s pictures, consider sharing their tweets as well. Crowdsourcing and curating your fans’ social media updates on a big public screen goes a long way toward building a high level of engagement and bringing everyone in the audience together.

What about you? Have you employed this tactic to engage attendees and fans at a live event? As a spectator, do you like having the opportunity to see your social media updates repurposed and shared by the event’s organizers to a much larger audience? Let me know what you think about this topic by leaving a comment here on this blog. 

Note: This post, “Crowdsourcing Photos to Engage the Audience at a Live Event,” was originally published on the Overdrive Interactive blog on September 9, 2013. To read the post there, click here.

What Brand Apps Can Learn from RunKeeper

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RunKeeper AppAt a recent networking event, I was talking to someone I hadn’t seen in a while about how great it is to keep up with each other through Facebook. I enjoyed the conversation, except for a remark he made about the fact that I share so much about my running regimen via RunKeeper, a very cool app that not only makes it easy to track your runs and other fitness activities, but distribute the details to your friends.

“What’s with you and RunKeeper? Do I really care how many miles you’ve run?”

Those weren’t his exact words. But that’s what I heard. The impression he gave me was that he could care less about something that means so much to me. Ouch.

The truth is, though, everybody else in my social media circles tells me they love what I share about my running exploits. They know I’ve run the Boston Marathon before (eight times for charity and three times unofficially) and what a big role running plays in my life. They’re glad to see all the pictures I take along the course of my runs and my frequent RunKeeper updates upon completion.

And in turn, I’m glad I’ve downloaded RunKeeper to my smartphone.

RunKeeperThat RunKeeper makes it easy for me to share data about my workouts with my social media network is one thing. What’s even more important to me as a user is that it allows me to document my running routes and history, keeping tabs on my progress every step of the way.

What can brand apps, not just other health and fitness brand apps, learn from RunKeeper? Plenty. Everything I like about this app could serve as an example of what they should at least try to be providing to their customers, prospects and users by way of their own apps. For example:

  • It’s empowering. Whenever I use RunKeeper, I’m motivated to run faster. Because I know that my social media connections may be paying attention, my pride won’t let each workout be anything less than my very best effort.
  • It’s convenient. RunKeeper tells me how far I’ve run, how long it’s taken me and how many calories I’ve burned. All I have to do is find the app on my smartphone and hit “Start Activity.” It gives me key information about my run that I wouldn’t have at my fingertips – literally – otherwise.
  • It’s supportive. Like my own virtual coach, it talks to me on my long, lonely runs. Every five minutes or so, it tells me how I’m doing. When you’re running mile after monotonous mile, any words of encouragement are appreciated, even if they’re robotic.
  • It’s practical. Whenever I use RunKeeper, it saves my activity to my account, making it possible for me to review my running logs anytime in one quick glance.
  • It’s social. Many people nowadays like to share their accomplishments online. They don’t want to brag, but they do want those among their social media networks to know about some of their proudest moments and greatest passions. I have RunKeeper set up to automatically share my activities to both Facebook and Twitter, making it easy to update my friends and followers about my running feats.

So if you work for a brand that’s planning to launch its own app, or if your brand already has its own app, think about what you can do to enhance the lives of your constituents. And as soon as you get the chance, take RunKeeper for a trial run. If nothing else, it’ll help you get into great shape.

Note: This post, “What Brand Apps Can Learn from RunKeeper,” was originally published on the Overdrive Interactive blog on August 26, 2013. To read the post there, click here.

What You Can Learn from Klout

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Most people who use social media for professional reasons have heard of Klout, a service that uses a unique set of analyticsKlout to rank its users in terms of their online “influence.”

To have heard of it doesn’t mean to like it, though. Klout has plenty of detractors, those who either question the algorithm it uses for measurement or who simply disapprove of a third party taking the liberty of ascribing a number to their social media status.

So yes, Klout has its critics. But don’t count me among them. I’m one of its fans.

A Klout score may not be the be-all and end-all of what it means to succeed in social media, but if you ask me, it’s a great gauge on how you’re doing there. Launched in 2008, Klout scores you based on your ability to drive action on the part of your followers, fans and friends. And as a career direct marketer, someone whose job it is to get a response, that’s right up my alley.

I use social media because I enjoy connecting and communicating with others, but also because I know that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like can be used to build brand and business. The interactivity between people and companies is where it’s at in social media. And that’s where Klout focuses its attention.

Whether you like Klout or not, there’s still plenty you can learn about the time you spend on social media from how it measures your score…

  • The number of connections you have is less important than how people engage with you and your content.
  • It pays to be active across a multitude of networks.
  • Online influence doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Who you are offline doesn’t necessarily carry over to your online reputation.
  • It isn’t how much content you share, it’s how many others are paying attention and responding to it.
  • The better you are at building meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships across social media, the more likely you are to be using these online communication channels successfully.

The bottom line is that the social in social media is where the rubber meets the road. Behaving like a human being – talking, listening, smiling and waving – will reap rich dividends. Share plenty of timely, relevant content with your audience. But don’t forget to be extemporaneous and convivial, too. A strong voice and an engaging personality will go a long way toward getting more people to respond to whatever it is you have to offer them.

Note: This post, “What You Can Learn from Klout,” was originally published on the Overdrive Interactive blog on August 1, 2013. To read the post there, click here.